There were some surprise calls when South Africa announced their squad for the quest of a second Champions Trophy. While left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj was rewarded for his good Test season, earning his maiden ODI call-up, Morne Morkel got back into the limited overs squad after 10 long months.
However, there was no place for veteran pacer Dale Steyn, as selectors kept their belief on the players who have consistently been a part of the limited-overs team for past 12 months. Let us predict their final XI for the ICC tourney.
Openers: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (WK)
South Africa have opted for just two specialist openers in the squad in the form of Hashim Amla and wicketkeeper-batsman de Kock. Both the players have been in excellent form in limited-overs cricket for the past year but it will be interesting to see how de Kock performs after returning from an injury. Also, there are players who can take up the opening role in the case of injury issues.
Middle-order: AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (C), David Miller
Comprising of some of the best hitters in the world, the middle-order is good to utilise good starts given by the openers. However, we have seen that the likes of de Villiers, du Plessis or Miller can also bat sensibly in order to stem a storm. So, the middle-order is experienced and it is expected to pose a significant threat.
All-Rounders: JP Duminy. Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo/ Keshav Maharaj
A batting all-rounder, a spin-bowling all-rounder and two fast bowling all-rounders – what else do you need in your team? Over the years, South Africa has had the privilege of having some of the best all-rounders in the world cricket and the CT squad is no different.
While Duminy can tear apart any bowling line-up on his day, his off-spin can be equally deceiving. On the other hand, Maharaj is coming at the back of an excellent test season and he would be looking to carry the momentum in coloured clothing. Morris has primarily been deployed as a pacer by Proteas but we all are aware of his pyrotechnics. Phehlukwayo is also a very handy option with his death bowling and hard-hitting abilities perfect for ODI game and can get a chance ahead of Maharaj on pitches assisting pacers and we have plenty of such pitches in England.
Spinner: Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir is the lone specialist spinner in the squad but he can have Maharaj or Duminy for the company depending on the opposition they are facing. The No. 1 ODI bowler has proved his credentials in the IPL by bowling some superb spells and he would look forward to carrying the form in International cricket.
Fast Bowlers: Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell/Morne Morkel
Kagiso Rabada is a surety in the fast bowling line-up while there will be a competition between veteran Morkel and seasoned-pro Parnell to complete the pace battery. With one or two fast-bowling all-rounders in the team, SA cannot play more than two pacers that would mean either of them will have to sit out. Parnell might be preferred to deepen the batting line-up while against strong batting units, Morkel may get the nod.
Squad: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (c), JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorious, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel